For the first time after seeing the Rangers in every playoff game for almost 2 calendar years and 17 total games, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally get to play a fresh playoff opponent. So let's dust off this old feature to kill time and preview the Washington Capitals.
Name: Andre Burakovsky
Weight: 198 lbs
Born: February 9th, 1995 (21 years old)
Drafted: WSH 1st Round 2013, 23rd Overall
2015-16 stat line: 79 games played, 17 goals, 21 assists, 12 penalty minutes
2014-15 playoff stat line: 11 GP, 2G, 1A
2015-16 stats vs Penguins: 5 GP, 2G, 2A
2015-16 5v5 Advanced Stats: 51.5 CF%, +0.4% Corsi Relative, 100.1 PDO
Player detail (via The Hockey News Player Page)
2015-16 Washington Capitals player usage, via War on Ice
HERO Chart (via Domenic Galamini):
Analysis: If I were a fan of the Capitals, I personally would never complain about a 21-year old carrying an $894,000 cap hit on an Entry Level Contract who put up 40 points this year. Those are the kind of contracts you need from your young talent.
Most common linemates: Burakovsky has spent a lot of times with Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov up front, and Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the back end. This feels like a recipe to succeed, supported by veteran and talented and skilled players who can skate and pass well. More often than not, those teammates will help him generate scoring chances.
Why you should know who he is: Know him as the guy who will probably score some goal after Kuznetsov feeds him a silly pass from behind the back, while he's pinned against the half-wall or end board. I personally guarantee it.
How the Pens can stop him: Ironically enough, I personally feel like one of the keys to stopping Burakovsky is by slowing down Kuznetsov and cutting down and blocking his passing lanes more than anything. I haven't watched him enough to speak in absolutes, but he feels like a player who doesn't create scoring chances so much on his own as helping to finish ones created by a center.